NFL already wants new rule adopted from rival football league
The NFL is learning from the example of a rival football league — and no, it’s not the XFL.
The upstart Alliance of American Football, which is set to play games next February, will eliminate kickoffs. Since 2012, the NFL has been exploring that same possibility, and now it will be able to see how the rule change might work in a different league.
And no, this won’t be that goofy, silly scramble for the ball that the XFL used during its gimmick-laden existence.
Charlie Ebersol, founder of the AAF, explained the new league’s rule.
“The kickoff is the least popular play, so why do we still have it?” he said Saturday on CBS. “If you want to go for an onside kick, we give you the ball on your own 35 facing 4th-and-10. If you can convert you get to keep the ball and go. If you don’t, the other team gets the ball.”
That 4th-and-10 is the most critical point. The New York Times‘ 4th Down Bot makes it clear that the best strategy with that down, distance and field position is to punt. Statistical analysis says that going for it gives the opposition great field position going the other way. Essentially, a team should only go for it on 4th-and-10 late in a game in which it’s trailing — just like an onside kick.
Moreover, in regard to Ebersol’s point about kickoffs not being terribly popular, the simple fact of the matter is that he’s right.
When people like Ebersol say that kickoffs are boring, what they’re really speaking to is football’s infamous commercial break-touchback-commercial break, which destroys the flow of the game.
Kickoffs also result in a concussion far more often than any other play in football, which is to be expected, as players get a full head of steam running nearly 70 yards at a full sprint , then smack into a prepared set of blockers.
The NFL, then, should watch the AAF closely to see how well eliminating kickoffs works. Then, the NFL’s Competition Committee will have plenty of time to make changes for the 2019 season.
The lack of kickoffs isn’t the only way the AAF will be different from the NFL.
In order to quicken the pace of play, there will be just a 30-second break in between plays.
Meanwhile, the AAF is revealing more details about who will be involved in the league and where games will be played. On Saturday, the league announced that Steve Spurrier will be coaching the AAF’s franchise in Orlando, Florida. The league has not revealed what the team’s name will be.
Orlando’s franchise is the first team to be unveiled by the AAF, with more to come this week.
In a statement, Ebersol outlined what the league is looking for in potential cities and coaches.
“When reviewing markets for The Alliance, we focused on cities who were looking for more football,” Ebersol said. “Orlando has already proven to be a passionate, loyal and engaged fan base that loves the game, yet they don’t have a professional football team to call their own.
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